Massachusetts has agreed to a $40 million settlement in a long-running case brought by police who had argued that the state’s promotional exam to attain the rank of sergeant discriminated against Black and Hispanic candidates.
The agreement could affect about 600 current and former police officers and calls on the state to create a new test that better measures the skills needed to serve as a police sergeant according to the settlement filed Friday in Suffolk Superior Court.
Judge Douglas Wilkins had ruled in October that the promotional exam amounted to a discriminatory process against Black and Hispanic candidates vying for police sergeant positions in departments across the state.
Both sides are due back in court May 10 for a final hearing during which Wilkins is expected to decide whether to approve the settlement.
Black and Hispanic Boston police officers found to be eligible for the settlement will be awarded at least $60,000 each.
In communities outside Boston, where officers of color would likely have been promoted if not for the state’s test, eligible officers will receive at least $45,000.
The class action lawsuit was brought by police officers who argued that they were either not promoted to sergeant or experienced a significant delay in promotions because of their exam scores. The lawsuit is more than a decade old.
The lawsuit focused on exams administered between 2005 and 2012, and involved officers from Boston, Brockton, Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, Springfield, and Worcester, along with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
Massachusetts employment discrimination laws apply to employers with six or more employees, and any employer of a domestic worker regardless of the employer’s size. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on race, color, religious creed, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender identity, age, criminal record (inquiries only), handicap (disability), mental illness, retaliation, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, active military personnel, and genetics. In addition, employers have an affirmative responsibility to provide parental leave to biological and adoptive parents.
If you are a victim of discrimination at your workplace, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar at 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE case evaluation.